The extraordinary special session is about to wrap up in the morning sometime after 12:01 AM. A Bill to address the significant cost increase for teacher health insurance will be presented for vote. The bill approriates $43 million from the State’s surplus to achieve the immediate need of keep teachers and school personnel from seeing a 50% increase in their premiums for the new fiscal year. If passed, teachers will pay 10% toward the cost of the increase, and the surplus funds will pay the remainder of the rate increase.
A bill will also be presented which will appoint a task force which will develop a long-term fix for the teacher insurance problem. Another main component to one of the bills being presenting would dismantle the board currently associated with EBD and fill it with new members, bringing an expertise to EBD that is long overdue. The fact that this financial crisis and its ramifications went undetected for so long suggests that these immediate changes are needed.
There is no doubt that this situation is unwelcomed and unwanted, and it quickly evolved to requiring action from the legislative body. I’ve worked with my colleagues for many weeks now to address this problem and I look forward to seeing a permanent fix soon. I will also be looking into the problem for those whose insurance rates are increasing and have no recourse. The idea of a tax credit is not out of the question. I will prepare a recap and share some perspectives in the near future.
Rep. Kim Hammer